Poison vs Venom: Difference and Comparison

Poison and Venom (both) are toxins i.e., substances that induce substantial harmful biological and physiological effects into the victim’s body.

Animals primarily use them to subdue their prey to defend themselves, but they can also result in the victim’s death. They function effectively when delivered correctly.

Key Takeaways

  1. Poisons are harmful substances that cause adverse effects when ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin, while venoms are toxins injected by animals through bites or stings.
  2. Poisonous animals, like poison dart frogs, release toxins passively, whereas venomous animals, like snakes, actively deliver venom.
  3. Antivenom treats venomous bites or stings, but there is no universal antidote for poisons, as treatment depends on the specific substance involved.

Poison vs Venom

The difference between Poison and Venom is that Poison is delivered to the victim’s body using touch, inhalation, ingestion, and absorption through the skin. In contrast, Venom reaches the victim’s body via a bite or sting. Both substances subject the victim to physical harm and are effective when delivered correctly.

Poison vs Venom

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Poison is a toxin delivered by a poisonous organism into the victim’s body through touch, ingestion, absorption through the skin, and inhalation.

Poisonous animals are unable to choose when to apply their toxins. Ingestion of Poison is a scarce occurrence; absorption into the victim’s skin is the standard way of transfer.

Venom is a specialized type of Poison that has evolved for specific purposes.

It is a mixture of small and large molecules, so to be effective, it finds its way into the bloodstream via a wound induced by a sting or bite.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPoison Venom
Mode of DeliverySecreted via skinActively injected via sting or bite
No possibility as poisonous animals cannot choose when to apply their toxins.Ingestion, Inhalation, Absorption through the skinVenomous molecules are injected into the bloodstream 
Purpose Behind ApplicationDeter potential predator/ Subdue preyKnock out or kill prey
Possibility of Selective UseIt can be used selectively; Not all stings/ bites are venomousCan be used selectively; Not all stings/ bites are venomous
Artificial PresenceLead, Arsenic, MercuryPharmaceuticals

What is Poison?

Poison is a biologically produced chemical/ toxin that causes substantial biological/ physiological harm to the victim’s body.

Poisonous animals use it to deter potential predators but is also capable of killing the victim.

Because they tend to be passive-aggressive, poisonous creatures also secrete Poison, ergo of being disturbed via touch or when eaten.

It is secreted through their skin, but in addition to absorption through the skin, it can also enter the victim’s biological system via ingestion and inhalation.

Poisonous creatures cannot choose to be toxic at a particular time as they constantly produce/ secrete toxins.

Thus, poisons can be absorbed through body tissue, but they’re also present in elements other than plants and animals.

Secretion of Poison via the poisonous animal’s skin and its absorption by the victim’s skin is a standard means of delivery. Hence ingestion is a scarce occurrence.

Poisonous creatures use Poison as a weapon to subdue their prey or to deter possible predators. They cannot use it selectively.

Numerous chemical elements like lead, arsenic, and mercury are poisons and not found in the body of any living organism.


What is Venom?

Venom is a toxic substance/ chemical that induces bodily harm into the victim’s body. It is primarily used by venomous animals (like snakes) to knock out or kill their prey.

Its usual means of introduction into the victim’s body is a sting or bite via fangs, teeth, or spiny protrusions on the animal’s body.

Being a mixture of small and large molecules, it enters the victim’s body via a sting or bite and then finds its way into their bloodstream to act effectively.

However, venomous animals don’t always inject venom when they bite.

Referred to as ‘Dry Bites’, these wounds are stings/ bites that do not involve the venom transfer from the vicious animal to the victim’s bloodstream.

Thereby, venomous creatures do not produce venom constantly and can choose when to administer their poison.

Venom is not necessarily poisonous because it won’t cause harm when touched or ingested.

To consider its modern applicability in the domain of pharmaceuticals, with advancements in scientific studies and research, several venom components were used in the design of new therapeutic agents.

They were also taken in as experimental molecules to validate postulated therapeutic targets, ultimately improving several drug libraries.

Main Differences Between Poison and Venom

  1. Poison is induced into the victim’s body by absorption through the skin, inhalation, ingestion, etc., but Venom is directly induced into the victim’s bloodstream employing a bite or sting.
  2. Poisonous Creatures produce toxins constantly and cannot choose whether to be toxic, but Venomous Creatures can choose when to administer their venom.
  3. Poisonous Creatures inhabit a passive-aggressive tendency to respond to threats. Venomous Creatures are more active in defending themselves.
  4. Poison, moreover accomplishes the motive of subduing a natural prey or deterring a possible predator. In contrast, venom is more harmful because it is known to be strong enough to knock out and kill the victim.
  5. Poisons exist in the form of chemical elements like Lead, Mercury, and Arsenic, whereas Venom components are actively used in the domain of pharmaceuticals to design new therapeutic agents.
Difference Between Poison and Venom
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1874391912001340
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0041010183900557

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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